Semper Ride Marine Corps Motorcycle Training

September 14, 2012
Justin Dawes
Justin Dawes
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Raised on two wheels in the deserts of Nevada, the newest addition to the MotoUSA crew has been part of the industry for well over 15 years.Equal parts writer, photographer, and rider, "JDawg" is a jack of all trades and even a master of some.

In 2008 more United States Marines died on motorcycles than in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In order to stem the tide of soldiers losing their lives back home on American soil, the Marine Corps Safety Board instituted a program that requires training for all active duty personnel that participate in motorcycling whether on- or off-road. One of the ways to satisfy those requirements is through the Semper Ride program. Thanks to required training guidelines and Semper Ride the fatality rate for Marine motorcycle fatalities has been reduced by 44%.

Yamaha provides a fleet of TT-R125LE dirt bikes for Semper Ride American Supercamp events.
American Supercamps Danny Walker has a teaching style that is high energy and very effective.
Yamaha TT-R125LE dirt bikes are the perfect machines for Danny Walker’s intensive two-day training camp.

The Semper Ride program allows Marines to attend action packed riding schools taught by some of the best riding instructors in the industry along with professional racers as guest coaches. MotoUSA was recently invited to attend a Semper Ride event at Camp Pendleton located in Southern California.

There are several trackday schools and off-road training courses offered by Semper Ride throughout the United States, but we got the joy of attending a training session taught by American Supercamp. If you aren’t familiar with American Supercamp, you really should be. Former pro dirt track racer and AMA road racer Danny Walker and his enthusiastic and talented crew run what is arguably the best two days of motorcycle schooling you can receive. Within the motorcycle industry the camp is legendary, and just the mention of it will set off hours of bench racing and discussion about how cool the class is. Danny has been known to crush seasoned pros egos, tearing them down to build them back up into even better bike handlers. Not one person has ever left without learning something new, and if someone says they didn’t – call them a liar.

The concept behind the Supercamp is using flat track-style training to learn balance, braking and throttle control by pushing the limits of traction while in a controlled environment. Danny explained that 90% of street riders don’t experience a loss of control or traction until they are crashing. Spending two days sliding around with the American Supercamp crew familiarizes riders with the feel of tires losing traction, control loss and how to get that control back. A fleet of Yamaha TT-R125LE dirt bikes is used on the specially built oval and TT courses. Using these smaller machines allows

Seven-time Grand National Champion Chris Carr was on hand to give instruction.
As the day progressed so did the Marines ability to slide and recover.
Seven-time Grand National Champ Chris Carr was on hand to give instruction at the American Supercamp presented by Semper Ride. After two days of training the riders learned  how to control and recover from a slide.

riders to test the limits of their skills without the speed and consequence of full sized bikes. Riders will fall down often but rarely do injuries surpass bruises and scrapes.

The first day of training begins with a presentation of the hows and whys of the American Supercamp training style, and after a short lesson on proper cornering technique and body position, the Marines hit the track. Riding begins slowly, drills are run, and specific skills are taught by Danny’s crew that consists of several young hotshot racers and one legend by the name of Chris Carr. Yeah, THE Chris Carr. After 20 minutes on the track, the riders get 20 minutes of off-track instruction and critiquing. This cycle repeats for two days. At the end of two days of training the Marine requirements for training have been satisfied, but more importantly the soldiers themselves have learned skills that could one day save their life on the street or dirt.

The United States Marine Corps has recognized the need for motorcycle training of its service men and women, and Semper Ride and American Supercamp have created a program that makes that training the best it can possibly be. The numbers reflect that. This proves the point that camps and trackdays will improve any rider’s skill set and safety. If it’s good enough for those that defend our county, it’s probably good enough for you.